Flight fright: Family asks person to switch plane seats, he refuses — and big trouble ensues

11 mins read


Sometimes air travel is — well, a hassle.

A person writing on Reddit recently described a scenario in which he found himself — it’s something many other people have also experienced. 

He described a flight home to the U.S. from Europe of “roughly 10 hours” in duration, and said that he booked his “ticket specifically to be closer to the front of the plane so I can be closer to the gate when it’s time to get out.”

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He added, “I personally hate traveling, so I spent a bit more money to be closer” to the front of the plane.

However, once he boarded his flight, a family of four approached him, he wrote — “and asked if I could switch spots.”

A Reddit user described a request he received from another passenger — and explained why he declined to swap seats: "Switching spots would mean moving back 20 rows down, which leaves me at an inconvenience and I would not be getting my money's worth." 

A Reddit user described a request he received from another passenger — and explained why he declined to swap seats: “Switching spots would mean moving back 20 rows down, which leaves me at an inconvenience and I would not be getting my money’s worth.” 
(iStock)

The Reddit user wrote, “Normally I’d be OK with that, but switching spots would mean moving back 20 rows down, which leaves me at an inconvenience and I would not be getting my money’s worth.” 

So — he turned down the request.

“I rejected the request and said that I would like to keep my seat,” he shared. 

“Respectfully, ma’am, your travel issues are not my problem. I am keeping the seat I paid for,” the man said.

Here’s what happened next. 

“The woman said that I was being an [expletive] and I should just give up my seat so she could sit with her husband and kids,” the traveler reported.

The Redditor user said he pushed back on this and told the mom, “Respectfully, ma’am, your travel issues are not my problem. I am keeping the seat I paid for,” he told the woman.

A child's feet are shown up against the seat in front of him. Some people, when asked by families to swap their seats, don't want to do it. They'd like to keep the seat they chose and paid for — as two people in this article note. 

A child’s feet are shown up against the seat in front of him. Some people, when asked by families to swap their seats, don’t want to do it. They’d like to keep the seat they chose and paid for — as two people in this article note. 
(iStock)

The woman, according to the Redditor, then “ended up making a scene.”

“Basically [she] said, ‘Wow, look at this [expletive] who can’t even move seats so a family could sit all together.”

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The traveler pushed back again and said to the mom, “Maybe you should have booked ahead of time, or spent more money on tickets so you all could sit together. This is not my issue.” 

For good measure, as “Unlikely-Strategy596” described in his post, he told her, “Grow up and get over it. I am not moving seats. End of story!”

To date, the original story posted on Reddit has received 1.4K comments so far and over 10,000 “upvotes.” 

The Redditor said that the woman’s husband then “apologized” to him for his wife’s behavior.

He added, “She hates traveling, but giving her the seat would’ve made things easier in the end.”

To date, the original situation as described on Reddit has received some 1.4K comments so far and over 10,000 “upvotes.” 

One commenter, responding to a family's request that a traveler swap seats with one of them, said "families do this on purpose … They know they can ‘guilt’ people into doing it if they make their kids given them big old eyes and whimper about wanting to stay with Mommy."

One commenter, responding to a family’s request that a traveler swap seats with one of them, said “families do this on purpose … They know they can ‘guilt’ people into doing it if they make their kids given them big old eyes and whimper about wanting to stay with Mommy.”
(iStock)

One person commented, “You paid for your seat and you have every right to sit there.”

Another responder wrote, “People need to learn to take the first ‘no’ graciously.”

Another person said, “I never switch [seats]. Especially if I paid for first class.”

And still another commenter said, “These families do this on purpose. One member buys a pricey seat while the others get cheap ones and then go up to the pricier seats to con other passengers into [switching] seats. They do this because they’re cheap, and they know they can ‘guilt’ people into doing it if they make their kids give them big old eyes and whimper about wanting to stay with Mommy.”

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This commenter continued, “Always stand up to these guys. Point out their plan loudly and let everyone around know that if they genuinely wanted to sit together, they would have offered the more expensive seat to a passenger in order to sit together.”

“If you intentionally sit in someone else’s seat, you’re setting yourself up for a confrontation and the flight attendant will make you go back to your original seat, thereby causing delays.”

Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert based in Florida who runs her own business, told Fox News Digital about this situation, “The only acceptable reason to ask for a seat swap is if you’re someone who is separated from someone who depends on your care — usually children under the age of 13, the disabled or an elderly person who needs extra assistance.”

Otherwise, she noted, “it’s best to book your seats early. Don’t expect someone who pays more to relinquish their seat for a lesser fare seat.”

Whitmore, who runs The Protocol School of Palm Beach, also said, “They paid for that seat for a reason. When you wait until you’re on the plane to ask for a seat swap, it puts everybody in a awkward position.”

Travelers in Miami International Airport. One woman politely declined when a family on board asked her to switch seats on the plane with their babysitter. 

Travelers in Miami International Airport. One woman politely declined when a family on board asked her to switch seats on the plane with their babysitter. 
(AP)

Whitmore also said, “People who don’t plan their seat selection ahead of time have to be prepared to either sit apart, arrive early to talk to a gate agent or pay for an upgrade when they get to the airport.”

Also, Whitmore advised, “Never ask someone to leave the front of the plane for a seat in the back of the plane. And never preemptively sit in a seat that doesn’t belong to you.”

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On this latter point, she added, “If you intentionally sit in someone else’s seat, you’re setting yourself up for a confrontation and the flight attendant will make you go back to your original seat, thereby causing delays.”

“I didn’t realize this was a thing families did. Thanks for mentioning it. Will keep that in mind about standing my ground.” 

A New York woman who was on a flight recently said she was asked by a young family sitting across the aisle from her if she would swap her aisle seat — meaning, swap with their babysitter who was seated two rows up and next to a window.

The New York woman said that she felt for the young family next to her and wanted to help — but she had chosen her specific aisle seat well in advance and did not want to be squeezed next to a window three people in or in a different row.

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“So I politely declined and explained that I really wanted my aisle seat,” the woman said.

The family seemed to understand — and the flight proceeded smoothly with no issues.

But the chatter on Reddit about the problem first described in this article has continued. 

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“Husband is used to his wife’s entitlement and embarrassing demands,” wrote one person.

Said another person, “I didn’t realize this was a thing families did. Thanks for mentioning it. Will keep that in mind about standing my ground.” 

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